Friday, 23 November 2012

Heritage of a Richer Blue

You may well ask about the juxtaposition of an old French manuscript and a piece of Georg Jensen jewellery, and if you carry on reading you'll find out. It's as a result of our online launch of the new selection of Georg Jensen Heritage products for 2013; this will be the 26th edition of the Heritage Collection, and I have just uploaded the latest additions, two new pendants, ear hooks and ear clips, each embellished with Lapis Lazuli and silver stone.

The use of Lapis maybe considered a departure for contemporary Georg Jensen designs, gemstones range from the subtle tints of pretty Amethyst and Rose Quartz, to the enigmatic metallic hues of Moonstone, from dense shining Agate to the dramatic zinging colour of Orange Chalcedony; but it is a direct recognition of the use of Lapis in Georg Jensen’s original Art Nouveau designs.

The deep mysterious yet vibrant blue of Lapis makes it a most compelling gem-stone.The name comes from the Latin 'lapis' meaning stone, and the Arabic for blue 'azula' and yet it is so much more than that simple description suggests.

Lapis Lazuli is relatively rare and lapis jewellery has been found in burial sites in Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BCE to c. 2500 BCE) sites in archaeology. In ancient Egypt, Lapis Lazuli was favoured for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs and was used for jewellery and seals in many ancient civilisations - Cleopatra used powdered Lapis for eyeshadow.
However, whenever I think of Lapis I think of the pictures from The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry a French Illuminated  manuscript from the late 1400's. Richly coloured it is the intense Lapis Lazuli and Cobalt blues that really stand out and make the images fizz with energy.

I've coupled the new Heritage pendant with one of the images, and although the reproduction of the blues can in no way get across the iridescence of the colour it is a reminder (for me) of a tiny part of the history of this extraordinary gem stone.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Celebration of ... Henning Koppel (1918-1981)

Henning Koppel is one of the main designers responsible for what the world has come to think of as “Danish design".

According to the Georg Jensen site, Koppel was an early pioneer of functionalism. In architecture this was the principle that architects should design a building based on the purpose of that building, this stemmed from the work of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Denmark developed its own form of Functionalism which also extended to other disciplines including furniture design in the work of Arne Jacobsen. However, the Danish functionalists were considered in some cases to have focused primarily on functionality at the expense of aesthetics, and according to <a href="" target="_blank>Decopedia</a> he considered himself to be an anti-functionalist, and his ideal was to make everyday life products beautiful as well as practical. "Functionalism has nothing to do with the art of forming silver" was one of his favorite expressions.

Koppel trained as a sculptor at the Royal Danish Academy and later studied in Paris and began collaborating with Georg Jensen in 1946.

Henning Koppel was born to a wealthy Jewish family and showed an early talent for art, leading him to train in both drawing and water colour early on. Koppel trained as a sculptor at the Royal Danish Academy and later studied in Paris.

Like many Danish Jews, Koppel fled to Sweden during the Second World War. At 27, he returned and began working at Georg Jensen, which marked his start in jewellery, hollow-ware and flatware design. His work was inspired by the sculpture of Calder, Arp and Brancusi, it was organic, archetypal and somtimes sensual. His first works – a series of necklaces and linked bracelets resembling whale vertebrae and microscopic organisms - were small masterpieces in imaginative modelling.

When Henning Koppel first designed his world famous watch in 1978, he broke with tradition and changed the way of marking time on watches by substituting dots for numbers. This simple yet striking difference in watch design has influenced Georg Jensen watch collections ever since and embodies the fundamental minimalist design values in Georg Jensen. A daring simplicity combining functionality and quality.

When Henning Koppel died in 1981, aged 63, he had created an astonishing range of work: from stainless steel cutlery such as “New York” which found its way into the homes of millions, to magnificent one-off signature pieces such as the silver and crystal chandelier he designed to celebrate the 75-year anniversary of Georg Jensen in 1979. His most famous piece, the silver pitcher for Georg Jensen of 1952 has been revived and remains a must have classic.

During his life, he won many awards including the Milan Triennial, the International Design Award of the American Institute of Interior Designers in 1963, and the Lunning Prize. Accolades are important, but what means even more to us is that people still choose to wear a watch by Henning Koppel or to serve coffee from one of his pots. The integrity and appeal of his designs remain vital and undiminished.

His daughter Nina Koppel, also went on to design for Georg Jensen, and carried on the family traditional of producing timeless classics, for it is she who is responsible for the Fusion Ring.